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Integration of Deep Biosphere Research into continental drilling campaigns



Deep biosphere research has become an important component of international drilling projects. The majority of deep biosphere research to date has been carried out on ODP samples. However, in most cases IODP can not drill deep enough to test the temperature, pressure, salinity, and porosity limits of the Deep Biosphere, also they probe only a small range of geological environments and ages to address the geodynamics of sedimentary systems. The incorporation of deep biosphere work into ICDP drilling offers a unique opportunity not only to expand the diversity of sites from which we have deep biosphere data to continental settings, but also to make a key global organization to foster research on the Deep Biosphere. ICDP has the necessary tools (e.g. the new INNOVA drilling rig) and works on sited that cover the geological diversity needed to understand how the Deep Biosphere works. For a relatively small increase in costs, contamination controls can be implemented during core retrieval, making possible microbiological analysis of the core. Although these approaches have been widely used in ODP and IODP projects, ICDP projects have only recently considered deep biosphere research as a priority. In times of increasing financial pressure it is of utmost importance to bundle the efforts of both the terrestrial and the marine community to push deep biosphere research forward and to use the advantages of either platform. For ICDP to continue its involvement in deep biosphere research it needs to discuss ways of co-ordinating future research plans. There are imminent projects either funded or under consideration, such as the plan to drill the Chicxulub impact crater, which may plan to have, or already have plans for, a deep biosphere component. Upcoming drilling projects like Lake Van will have such a component. There have already been substantial efforts to consolidate a long-term ICDP approach to deep biosphere work with the plan for a mobile geomicrobiology laboratory (BugLab) which is currently being acquired by GFZ.






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Principal Investigators
  • Jens Kallmeyer, German Research Centre for Geosciences, Section 5.3, Geomicrobiology
  • Charles S. Cockell, University of Edinburgh, School of Physics and Astronomy



Deep Biosphere, Drilling, ICDP-2008/08, Microbiology


Current State



Google Earth/Maps